AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Nueva School Hillside Learning Complex
(Nueva School)

This photo shows the student center and the amphitheater.
Photo credit: Tim Griffith


  • Location: Hillsborough, CA
  • Building type(s): K-12 education
  • New construction
  • 27,000 ft2 (2,510 m2)
  • Project scope: 3 2-story buildings
    6,960 ft2   (646 m2)
    3,940 ft2   (366 m2)
    16,100 ft2   (1,500 m2)
  • Suburban setting
  • Completed September 2007
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2.2--Level: Gold (45 points)

Founded in 1967, the Nueva School is a private K-8 school serving 370 students. The school's mission is to inspire passion for lifelong learning, foster social acuity, and develop each child's imaginative mind, enabling students to learn how to make choices that will benefit the world.

The Hillside Learning Complex includes three buildings—a library and media center, a student center, and a classroom building with administrative offices, seven classrooms, and an R&D lab—which are organized around a central plaza. The classroom building serves only the fifth through eighth grades. The student center serves lunch to the same group. The library serves the entire school.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2008. It was submitted by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects in San Francisco, California. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

The project replaced an 18,000-ft2 parking lot within the school's 33-acre campus. Most students arrive at the suburban site by bus or carpool. The project's contribution to the urban heat-island effect is reduced through the use of green roofs, covered parking, and high-albedo paving.

The project team clustered the buildings around an existing ridgeline and stepped them with the natural topography to minimize their impact on the site. Green roofs on the library and student center provide habitat for indigenous species. The project reduces water use through the use of drought-tolerant landscaping and drip irrigation as well as waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, and other efficient plumbing fixtures.

Several strategies reduce the project's energy use. These include orientation and design for daylighting and natural ventilation; earth sheltering, additional insulation, and high-performance glazing; high-efficiency boilers and radiant hydronic heating; and efficient lighting and occupancy sensors. A 30-kW photovoltaic system provides about 24% of the project's energy needs.

The project team selected materials to protect indoor air quality. Paints, adhesives, and sealants were selected for their low chemical emissions, and insulation and wood products were selected for their lack of added urea-formaldehyde. The team also selected materials for economy, durability, and resource efficiency. More than 80% of all construction debris was recycled.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by The Nueva School, Corporation, nonprofit
  • Typically occupied by 200 people, 30 hours per person per week; and 40 visitors per week, 1 hour per visitor per week

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces:

Classroom (53%), Cafeteria (12%), Structured parking (9%), Circulation (8%), Mechanical systems (7%), Restrooms (5%), Office (5%)

Outdoor Spaces:

Wildlife habitat (57%), Patio/hardscape (25%), Parking (7%), Garden—decorative (5%), Drives/roadway (4%)


Integrated team, Green framework, Simulation, Green specifications, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Operations and maintenance, Open space preservation, Wildlife habitat, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Efficient irrigation, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Massing and orientation, Insulation levels, Glazing, Passive solar, HVAC, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Adaptable design, Durability, Benign materials, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, C&D waste management, Occupant recycling, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Thermal comfort, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/22/2008

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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